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Oliver Hirschbiegel
Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jackson Bond, Jeffrey Wright, Veronica Cartwright, Josef Sommer
Writing Credits:
Dave Kajganich, Jack Finney (novel)

Do not trust anyone. Do not show emotion. Do not fall asleep.

The Invasion tells the story of a mysterious epidemic that alters the behavior of human beings. When a Washington D.C. psychiatrist (Nicole Kidman) discovers the epidemics origins are extraterrestrial, she must fight to protect her son, who may hold the key to stopping the escalating invasion.

Box Office:
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.951 million on 2776 screens.
Domestic Gross
$15.071 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 1/29/2008

• “We’ve Been Snatched Before: Invasion in Media History” Featurette
• “The Invasion: A New Story” Featurette
• “The Invasion: On the Set” Featurette
• “The Invasion: Snatched” Featurette
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


The Invasion (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 16, 2008)

Everyone accepts Nicole Kidman’s status as an “A”-list movie star, but one look at her filmography causes some confusion. Shouldn’t someone so famous appear in at least a few hit films? Check out the flicks for which she was the true lead – not a single one earned $100 million or more. 2001’s The Others came close, but it stands alone as a real Kidman-led semi-hit.

Indeed, the list of her clunkers seems more notable, as Kidman has starred in quite a few high-profile disappointments like The Stepford Wives and Bewitched. 2007 proved especially tough for Kidman, as the big-budget hoped-for-franchise The Golden Compass fizzled and her summer action flick The Invasion completely crashed and burned. When I saw it made only $15 million, I thought that was a mistake; I knew it bombed but I couldn’t believe it failed so completely.

The third remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I actually had wanted to see Kidman’s Invasion theatrically, but it came and went so quickly I never got the chance. Undeterred by its poor box office performance, I decided to take a look at the DVD.

When the space shuttle explodes and disintegrates during re-entry, it leaves a wide trail of debris from DC to Dallas. It brings with it something sinister as well: an infectious space spore attached to it. CDC representative Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) investigates and becomes contaminated by the spore.

This changes Tucker, as he becomes literally a new person, affected by the spore. DC psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Kidman) immediately senses the difference, and she starts to develop additional suspicions when she hears of people who act unlike themselves. Along with doctor friends Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig) and Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), they discover that a virus that alters a person’s DNA during sleep spreads the plague. The movie follows Carol’s attempts to stay human and also to save her son Oliver (Jackson Bond).

As the fourth version of this tale to hit the big screen, a discussion of Invasion should focus on what it does to justify its existence. Unless a flick decides to take the bizarre shot-by-shot replication mode of Psycho 1998, a remake needs to do something different. Otherwise, why bother?

At the very least, one must give Invasion credit for its refusal to simply imitate its predecessors. Oh, it obviously shares many similarities with the earlier flicks, but it still manages to stand on its own. I think this one uses the prior efforts as conceptual inspiration instead of as a direct blueprint.

Whether or not the various changes succeed becomes a different issue. For instance, the method that the aliens use to take over the humans is very different here. In the old movies, pods created replacement versions of folks, whereas here an infection changes them from the inside. This still requires sleep to work, but otherwise it’s a definite change.

I could live without the gross aspects of this, as the transformed people spew infected vomit at their intended targets. Otherwise I think it’s an interesting idea, and one that increases the threat. The pods were ominous but not as difficult to escape. When everywhere you go, people can easily infect you, the situation becomes much more difficult to endure.

Really, I can’t find fault with the changes such as that, but that doesn’t mean that I think Invasion is superior to its predecessors. Oh, it might top the forgettable 1993 version, but it certainly doesn’t compare with the original 1956 edition or the creepy 1978 take.

While Invasion evolves into its own film and indeed improves on the model in some ways, the execution falters much of the time. Rather than embrace the eerie paranoia of earlier versions, this one prefers a more standard thriller/horror vibe. It’s not a terribly coherent effort, as it emphasizes action over atmosphere or plot. Characters wander into illogical situations and plot holes abound, but the movie doesn’t care; it just wants to throw out the scares and jumps.

Even when Invasion attempts to become more thoughtful, it can’t follow through in a satisfying manner. Unlike its predecessors, this one actually suggests that planet full of “pod people” might not be a bad thing. With these replacements in play, world peace develops. Is free will and true humanity worth all the pain and angst that result?

The movie alludes to these concepts, but it fails to do much to explore them. The notion arises during an awkward and incongruous dinner party scene, and it pops up again at the end, but that’s about it. At no point does the movie do more than nod at the philosophical implications. The Invasion wants to believe it’s a thoughtful flick, but it really prefers to stick with brainless action.

And I can’t say it flops in that department. The Invasion never quite becomes a good movie, but it never turns into something genuinely bad either. Kidman remains lovely to watch, and the drama manages to keep us reasonably involved. That’s enough to make the flick moderately entertaining but nothing more significant occurs.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Invasion appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film came with a surprisingly mediocre transfer.

Sharpness suffered from erratic moments. Much of the time demonstrated good delineation, but too much softness popped up as well. This left the presentation without the desired consistency, as the flick often looked rather soft. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was minimal. I noticed no source flaws, though the flick seemed rather grainy at times.

Like many sci-fi films, Invasion went with a heavy stylized palette, and it favored teal and orange. The DVD replicated these in an acceptable way, though they appeared somewhat thick at times. Blacks were reasonably deep and dark, while shadows showed decent clarity. The softness was the major problem here, as along with the grain and some of the murky colors, I thought this was a “C+” image.

Matters improved when I considered the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Invasion. While not a dazzling affair, it opened up the spectrum to good advantage. The opening space shuttle disaster started things with a bang, and a variety of action sequences used the side and rear speakers to move vehicles and other elements in a satisfying way. I couldn’t point out a truly impressive sequence, but the soundfield was more than satisfactory.

Audio quality always worked fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, and the score was quite lively. The musical elements showed nice range and clarity throughout the flick. Effects also appeared impressive, as they were both clean and vivid. This was a solid mix that earned a “B+”.

Don’t expect a lot of extras here, as we simply find four featurettes. We’ve Been Snatched Before: Invasion in Media History goes for 18 minutes and 50 seconds as it mixes movie clips, media elements and interviews. We hear from producer Joel Silver, USC Homeland Security Researcher Terry O’Sullivan, professor/author Vivian Sobchak, The Monster At Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu author Mike Davis, screenwriter David Kajganich, False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear author Dr. Marc Siegel, The Secret Life of Germs author Philip M. Tierno, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology Randy S. Wymore, and actors Jeremy Northam and Veronica Cartwright.

“Snatched” briefly alludes to the prior Body Snatchers films and their political environments but mostly discusses the current flick’s theme of infectious disease. It looks at various issues related to that subject as it considers threats and fear among the world’s population. This becomes a moderately interesting piece but not a particularly coherent one. It never quite figures out where it wants to go, so some intriguing threads pop up but don’t ever mesh together.

The other three featurettes all come as branches of the same tree. These include The Invasion: A New Story (2:59), The Invasion: On the Set (3:21) and The Invasion: Snatched (3:12). They involve Kajganich, Northam, Silver, Cartwright, director Oliver Hirschbiegel, executive producer Ron Smith, key location manager Todd Christensen, production designer Jack Fisk, location manager John Latsener, stunt coordinator Keith Adams, special effects make-up artist Michael O’Brien and actors Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. They chat about the flick’s plot and themes, shooting in DC, and some elements of the “snatching”. A few decent glimpses of the set occur, but overall these programs offer standard promotional fluff.

A few ads open the disc. We find promos for Blade Runner, Return to House on Haunted Hill, 10,000 BC, Gametap.com, Shoot ‘Em Up and Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane. No trailer for The Invasion appears here.

Given its failure at the box office, one could assume that The Invasion is a terrible flick. It’s not, though I also can’t call it an especially interesting effort. It’s just good enough to maintain our interest for 99 minutes, but it falls far short of the heights achieved by its more successful predecessors. The DVD offers pretty good audio, but it suffers from mediocre visuals and a paucity of substantial extras. Give it a rental if you’re curious to see an update of the old Body Snatchers model, but don’t expect a lot from it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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